Seeds a key to Null family’s success

Kaylee Travis Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

HOBART — In 1958, a city girl married a farm boy, and the rest is history.

When Carroll Null married Larry Null, she knew nothing about agriculture — not even that some plants, like peanuts, grow underground.

“We were coming through Binger, and Larry said, ‘Oh man, look at those peanuts.’ And I said, ‘Where? Where?’ … I was looking at these rows of peanuts and didn’t know that peanuts grew under the ground. That’s how bad it was,” Carroll Null laughed.

You would never know it now, however. In fact, she worked in agriculture for nearly 40 years. During her time in the industry, Null has taken seed wheat orders, helped customers, loaded wheat trucks, answered farm questions, handled paperwork and finances, cooked and taken meals to the field, and picked up equipment parts.

The family farms wheat, sesame, cotton and milo and has a 185-head cow-calf operation.

“We have a mother cow herd,” Null said, “so we have that going year-round. We market our calves the end of January, and then the baby calves are born February and March.”

While the farm is a big part of the operation, the main component is Null Seed Farms.

“We work out of our home,” Null said. “We have an office on the north side of our house.”

Established in 1960, it is a business of selling registered and certified seed wheat across southwest Oklahoma and Texas.

“We’re also [DuPont] Pioneer and WestBred seed reps,” she said, “and they provide support. Since we’re in the registered and certified business, we work closely with Oklahoma State University because of requirements necessary in order to market their seed. We buy seed from them, and when we plant that, it comes off registered. When we plant that [registered seed], it comes off certified. We are also members of the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association and Oklahoma Genetics Inc.”

Before joining the farm and business full time, Null taught elementary school until her retirement in 1980.

“I actually taught 18 years and then retired to help on the farm. The only problem was I didn’t know how to do much,” she laughed.

She has come a long way since then.

History tends to repeat itself, but Carroll Null never dreamed her Grandfather Noske’s background in agriculture would show up again in her lifetime.

At 17, he was sent to America from Poland never to see his family again.

“He was a farm kid,” she said. “The German government was taking young farm men in Germany and Poland and placing them in the German Army. That’s my link to a farm family.”

Once her grandfather reached America, he settled in South Dakota and then finally in southwest Oklahoma.

“Once he got to Hobart, he had quite a large family,” she said. “All the boys worked the farm with their dad, including my father, but as a young man my dad left the farm and never farmed again.”

During Null’s childhood, she was never around agriculture, but it is because her grandfather settled in Hobart to farm that she met her husband.

“I came out here to visit relatives when I was a kid,” she said, “and that’s when I met Larry. As a matter of fact, he was my date for the senior prom in Stillwater.”

Both Carroll and Larry graduated from college in Stillwater — Carroll at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (Oklahoma A&M) in its last class and Larry at OSU in its first class. The university changed names in between their graduations.

“I was the last of the Aggies, and my husband was the first of the Cowboys,” Null laughed.

Null majored in music, adding a double major in education after becoming serious with Larry.

“I had to change my major in college because I didn’t know how a music major was going to survive out here in western Oklahoma,” Null laughed, “but I did get to teach elementary music for 10 of the 18 years. That was fun.”

Larry finished military training during college, which was required at the time, and then the newlyweds moved to Hobart to help with harvest until he was called to service in the Air Force where he was a supply officer. The Nulls moved to Texas and Florida before being transferred to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. After Larry’s father died of cancer, Larry applied for a hardship discharge, and the Nulls returned to the farm in 1960.

Carroll Null grew up during World War II at a time when gasoline was rationed, and her dad had no cars to sell at his dealership due to the war. Her family moved to find work from Kansas to Colorado and back to Kansas before settling in Stillwater after the war. While in Colorado, Null boarded at a private school during the week because her mother had to provide transportation to coworkers in order to get gasoline stamps. Both her parents, Lois and Bill Noske, worked in defense.

Carroll and Larry have been married 60 years “and counting,” she says. They raised two sons, Tom and Scott, who have now taken over the operation. Carroll and Larry have four grandchildren — two boys and two girls. The grandsons are now returning to farm full time.

“Brian joined us three years ago,” Null said. “Colvin is a senior at OSU and will be back next summer after graduation. Alexandra and Jacquelyn are both Kansas University graduates, live out of state and are pursuing their careers.”

Tom’s wife Lynn recently retired from OSU extension and now works at the Great Plains Technology Center in Lawton. In 2005, Null had surgery and treatment for breast cancer. During this time, Scott’s wife Janice began working on the farm full time. It is truly a family business.

Carroll and Larry, both now 82, are “semiretired” and still are involved in the business and farm, but it is primarily in the hands of the next generation.

“I’m the assistant cook now,” she said. “Monday is my day.”

She added, “We serve the noon meal to whoever is working here, and if there are customers here, and they choose to eat with us, whatever we have, they have.”

The Nulls have been involved with Farm Bureau since 1960 and have been named Kiowa County Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year. Null is a member of First United Methodist Church in Hobart. She volunteers at the Hobart Food Pantry and with Feed my sheep, a program to feed children during the summer. She also enjoys quilting in her free time.

Null never dreamed she would be so involved in agriculture, but she would not trade it.

“My favorite time of the year is not harvest,” she said, “It is when the wheat is emerging, and the fields turn green.”

When asked about her transition into agriculture, Null said, “It’s been a very rewarding life. I’ve learned to appreciate nature … I certainly love it now. It’s just been over the years learning something new all the time.”

She continued, “The people we deal with are just absolutely wonderful, hardworking, family loving people that just want what’s best for their family, and they work hard to achieve that. It’s really good to be associated with people who are in agriculture.”

“It’s been a wonderful family occupation where the father passed it down to the sons and goes down now to the grandsons,” she said. “It’s kept our family close to each other and provided a living for all of us, but personally I just love it because it’s just beautiful, regardless of drought or flood and despite the fluctuation of markets. It’s provided a wonderful family occupation for all of us. It’s been very good to us, and we’re very proud to be in the agricultural industry.”